Macron stretches lead as French presidential campaign enters final day

News Hour:

Centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron extended his lead in the polls over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Friday, the final day of a tumultuous election campaign that has turned the country’s politics upside down.

The election is seen as the most important in France for decades with two diametrically opposed views of Europe and France’s place in the world at stake, reports Reuters.

The National Front’s Le Pen would close borders and quit the euro currency, while independent Macron, who has never held elected office, wants closer European cooperation and an open economy. The candidates of France’s two mainstream parties were both eliminated in the first round on April 23.

Four new polls showed Macron on track to win 62 percent of the votes in the second round compared to 38 percent for Le Pen, his best score in a voting survey by a major polling organization since nine other candidates were eliminated in the first round on April 23. A fifth poll showed him on 61.5 percent.

Pollsters said Macron had been boosted by his performance in a rancorous final televised debate between the two contenders on Wednesday, which the centrist was judged by French viewers to have won, according to two surveys.

Macron’s strong showing in the debate, and another poll this week showing his En Marche! (Onwards!) movement likely to emerge as the biggest party in June legislative elections, have lifted the mood among investors worried about the upheaval a Le Pen victory could cause.

The gap between French and German 10-year government borrowing costs hit a new six-month low on Friday.

European shares eased after a week of gains that were partly driven by easing political worries in France.

“Despite that almost nobody expects a surprise, meaning Macron is the overwhelming favorite to win and become the new French president, traders seem to favor (taking) a bit of money off the table,” said City of London Markets trader Markus Huber.

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